Creating an Intentional Life

The theme for November’s issue of the Fernie Fix is “Intention” and though I’d originally planned on writing an article on the lofty and timely topic of menopause, I decided that this is a great time of year to consider creating a life of intention and purpose. Menopause will always be there, lurking around the corner.

So many of use just kind of fall into our lives, taking the automatic “next step”, whether that be going to university straight out of high school, accepting that stable job with a good pension plan, getting married, or having kids. What can tend to happen without us even realizing it is living a life where we just go through the motions. Sure, there are major life events that interrupt the day to day monotony, good and bad, and often during these times we will often consider an alternative life path a new habit, but more often we will just revert to our old habits and time will pass. What if, instead of just letting our lives happen to us, we set about creating the life that we want, with intention and purpose? The new year is around the corner (two months away!) and instead of waiting until then to make some resolutions, why not make those changes now and start the year feeling good about the progress we’ve already made? Here are five small but powerful changes that we can make today to fill our lives with meaning and purpose:

  1. Journaling - Start by establishing a journaling practice, 10 minutes a day. Pick a time of day that is usually quiet for you (early morning, before bed, during a lunch break - whatever works) and spend 10 minutes writing out your thoughts. Buy a new journal that inspires you in some way. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or how it looks, just start writing your thoughts and dreams in freeform. Make lists about what is important to you. If you need some guidance or inspiration, there are guided journal practices out there, but I find that it works to just see where your mind goes. This journal isn’t designed to be a recollection of the day’s events or something that you read in 20 years (though you might want to); it’s designed to help you make sense of your life now and perhaps find some inspiration and guidance.
  2. Gratitude - Not entirely separate from the idea of journaling but it deserves its own bullet. Start a daily gratitude practice, maybe by spending the first minute or two of your journaling time jotting down the five or ten things you are grateful for that day. A daily gratitude practice helps us (forces us) to focus on what’s going on in our lives right now. We spend so much time thinking about the things we’ve done wrong (or worse, ways we have been wronged) and daydreaming about the future that we forget about how powerful it is to live in the now. Now is when we make changes. Now is when we take the first steps to changing our lives and living with intention.
  3. Self-Care - I have been thinking a lot about the idea of “Self-Care” and “Treat Your Self” and I think that as much fun (and occasionally, appropriate) as it is, we are doing it all wrong. The real self-care should revolve around creating habits that will optimize our health and well-being and improve our longevity. Self-care, to me, should be treating ourselves to good quality, whole, organic (when possible) ingredients to nourish our bodies, drinking ample clean water, establishing better sleep hygiene and not only sleeping more, but better, and exercising in a way that may achieve our fitness goals but more than that, is joyful.
  4. Relationships - We have been conditioned to believe that more is better when it comes to relationships but truthfully, when we have more, less meaningful relationships, the relationships that really fill our souls suffer. We don’t have to be friends with everyone, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be friendly. Let’s focus on the few relationships in our lives that make our lives better. That make us better. Plan dates with these people to reconnect in the coming months and make a plan to regularly take the time to nurture these relationships. Consider extending this to social media and reduce your friend list (or consider deleting social media apps altogether). Be intentional about who you spend your time with and who you interact with through social media.
  5. Meditate - Meditation has become a common theme for me because it is such a powerful tool to force yourself to stop, slow down, and go within. There is nothing really more intentional than 10 minutes of meditation. Start small but do it every day. Simple, right?

These practices don’t take much time out of our days but it can feel daunting incorporating any new habit on a daily basis. Just try. Try it for 30 days and see how it feels, how you feel. Living the life you want, with intention, doesn’t happen overnight but small daily steps don’t take long to add up to a major life change.